Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cheap Distributed Energy for Rural Development

In India, Tata, one of the industrial giants of the country is working through concepts to invest in cheap distributed power supply in rural areas.

The company believes there is a market.......if not today, then soon. And they are positioning themselves to be part of it.

Sure, one thinks of solar powered telephone towers, remembering that the entire microwave repeater system across the north of Australia was run on solar power, and that was 25 years ago. So that is not new.

There are other options too, including local use of biomass produced for fuel such as palm oil, or other crop oils used in small diesel motors to run local cottage industry or produce modest amounts of electricity.

Tata is doing this big time though.

Does their model also offer some hope for many other rural and remote regions across Asia and Africa especially?

Read more here:;mlt_related

Monday, March 28, 2011

Compadre Zoysia - Choice For High Profile Area in Central Palmerston, NT

As part of the beautification of the central area of Palmerston, the Palmerston City Council has used Compadre zoysia, sown from seed, as a key component of the landscape plan. Seed sowing offered a much lower cost than using turf sod, although slower, yet allowed satisfactory development over about 16 - 20 weeks of an area that will be used for many years. The area links the public bus terminal and many of the current office buildings at the northern part of the central business area, including the Council offices, Goyder building and Post Office.

Both sides of the pedestrian pathway are sown, with trees along the road verge.

The site was prepared and sown in mid 2010, on a reasonably shallow laterite site that had modest topsoil applied.

Although germination and establishment were slower than expected, the cooler conditions of the mid dry season impacted on this with growth quickly improving from September. Slow establishment is common in the Dry season, with almost any turf grass.

The site suffered due to prior rural use of the area, and numerous plants of the pasture species of stylo also established.
Several rounds of herbicide sprays to control these weeds, along with sedges that appeared in the very wet conditions of the 2010/ 2011 wet season, were needed to develop a satisfactory turf surface.

Importantly for the Council, it does seem that reduced mowing frequency [about half of normal frequency] is practically possible with Compadre zoysia, achieving a great appearance at reduced mowing cost.

Mowing costs are a major component of long term turf maintenance on commercial areas, and less frequent mowing can reduce overall costs of the area.
The aesthetics are superb.........even if it was raining when the photos were taken in mid March 2011!

There have been some initial additional costs with weed control, but they are not huge and mowing less often will recover these costs very quickly.

The area has been established only about 8-9 months, and with the shorter dense turf cover, it does look impressive.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Zoysia Compadre Turf at Darwin Waterfront - Early 2011 Update

The Darwin Waterfront Project used Compadre zoysia as the turf grass of choice, and it was sown from seed in late 2009. Conditions after sowing were not ideal, in fact definitely difficult, with very heavy tropical strom rain and problems with soil movement that required significant intervention by the contractor. Despite the problems, the area was sown and the Compardre zoysia grew satisfactorily after some repair work following the storm damage. Now, about 16 months later the area is fantastic.
The sown turf has very few weeds, is lush and green, and well used. Mowing frequency has been reduced to a lower level, turf density is very high and the grass provides great lateral density such that it is impossible to see any ground.

A great turf area has been achieved primarily through mowing and allowing the Compadre zoysia to develop its thick carpet of turf.

Especially important, has been the excellent growth in shady areas where ground cover is really no different to open sunny locations. Compadre zoysia is recognised as an excellent shade tolerant grass. It is soft, non itchy and usually well patronised by those using the swimming lagoon and wave pool.

Right now, that is not too many...........the rain has been keeping patrons away, especially tourists who are usually very regular users of the area!

The photos are from early March 2011, after about 3 months of very heavy wet season rain this wet season. There has been no problem with erosion and the grass is ...........well, great

This is a high profile site and Compadre zoysia has shown it can be a very acceptable and desirable turf lawn in the region.

Try it at your site by contacting us at .

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wind Energy in China

The wind energy potential in China is very substantial.

The ordinary citizens of most western countries are generally ignorant of the advances that are happening in alternative energy developments in China, with many media stories focussed on energy from coal, and quite dirty energy too. Wind energy particularly has developed enormously over the past 15 years or so. In the mid 1990s, there were the emergence of some significant wind energy projects often funded by the EU or member countries.

Developments since then have been, well, like many things in China - absolutely enormous.

Currently, China's wind power installed capacity has reached 42GW at the end of 2010, and is the largest wind power producer in the world. By contrast Australia's wind energy capacity is about 2GW [2009 data], yet we have significant resources, not being used.

China is expected to increase capacity to 135 GW in 5 years and 513 GW in 20 years, according to some sources. This means in the next 20 years, China will add an average of about 25 GW of wind power installed capacity and invest more than 25 billion Euros in the wind power market every year.

The land-based wind energy resource in the western region of Xinjiang accounts for 37% of the national total. By the end of 2015, Xinjiang's wind power installed capacity will reach 60 GW.

To further enhance these develpment projects a major conference in May is being held in Urumqi [Xinchiang Province] to attempt to bring projects and money together.

China does need clean energy, as much energy currently is from some pretty dirty coal power plants. China........I think we shall see a very large incease in alternative energy as a power source, with wind a large part of that increase.

They are planning a lot of nuclear power plants too.............although no doubt like others, the recent Japan incidents might influence their thinking.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Less Greenhouse Gas - Modest Steps and Tangible Actions Work

A lot of the debate around alternate energy, energy efficiency and even a carbon price or tax has focussed on climate change. That nebulous, end of century effect that no one is really sure about whether real or imagined, and which sceptics of climate change then have great delight in demolishing any argument to do anything about issues now. I am not a sceptic of man driven climate change, but for many it is just a difficult concept.

The ex Governator - or maybe the ex Terminator - has had quite a bit to say over the past few days, while delivering a very well received address at a conference in the US. And it offers some common sense about effecting change.

His premise is that climate change is just too abstract for most people to conceive [ apparently especially Americans] and that those wishing to effect change at grass roots level and in society need to be focussing more on real effects now, tangible things. These include:

  • job creation from green jobs related to mandated renewable energy use,
  • reductions in oil use and hence dependence on other countries for energy,
  • energy efficiency that offers real benefits in reduced costs due to efficency improvements in homes and businesses,
  • health benefits from reduced use of oil,
  • vehicle efficiency improvements to reduce fuel use,

among a range of issues.

offers a reporters view of the address.

This seems a very pragmatic approach, well wrapped in some humour too, and does offer a way forward at even local levels. Getting back to the old cliche - "act locally, think globally' a catch cry slogan of the environment movement. And implies a degree of personal responsibility, in California's case also in some areas offering state support.

There have been a number of reports available of business case studies that created quite substantial real $$ savings by embracing energy efficiency, for example and many jurisdictions do have programs to assist in taking this approach and actions.

Also read an earlier post -

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Clean Technology in Mexico - A Lesson for Australia?

To many Australians, Mexico is not on the business horizon. It might be a fun location to visit......but not for business.

That is a little different in livestock production where there has been a reasonably strong connection between the tropical livestock and pastoral industries for some time. Can Mexico offer some ideas for clean technology devlopment that might be relevant in Australia? They do have a large adjacent market in the US, although some would argue that Australia does have a similar market......the countries of Asia.

Mexico may have a few ideas to also show Australia in relation to development of major initiatives in clean energy including geothermal sources, at least in shallow source areas. Some might counter this and say, so does New Zealand in geothermal sources, with both using hot rocks and steam associated with vulcanism, not a situation seen readily in Australia though.

Mexico has also been ramping up PV use.

is a recent rticle highlighting developments in clean tech in Mexico.

Could some of this be relevant for Australia?